For 17 years, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber have been delighting children while teaching them core values.
Ask any kid to sing “We are the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything “and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.
With over 53 million videos, 13 million books and 7 million CDs, VeggieTales is a very successful enterprise, bringing the message that “God loves us and wants a relationship with us,” according to Mike Nawrocki, co-creator of VeggieTales and the voice of Larry the Cucumber.
This month, they released their latest DVD “VeggieTales: It’s a Meaningful Life,” which Nawrocki says is a blending of the concepts highlighted in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “A Christmas Carol” and “Polar Express” and inspired by the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Stewart (Larry the Cucumber) is injured during the biggest football game of his life and his hopes of playing in the Salad Bowl are dashed. Fifteen years later, Stewart is living a happy life, working at a toy train factory, a father to a family. He still wonders what fame and fortune he missed out on, though.
He finds himself on a train that time travels and he gets the chance to see what could have been. The question is – would it have been better? Are those he loves still happy? Does he end up seeing a better life or does he become more thankful for the “meaningful” life he has? Watch and find out!
Nawrocki says it takes anywhere from 18 months to a couple years to bring a video from concept to market. At any one time, Big Idea Entertainment, the VeggieTales parent company, has one video in production, one video in pre-production, one in final scripting and any number in development.
Once the script is written, it takes 9 to 12 months to produce the video. Nawrocki says the movie-making process for animation is actually backwards from typical film-making – editing and voice recording happen first and then the production is built around that.
He would know. He actually worked in video post production during college, where he was studying to be a doctor. While in college, he met Phil Vischer, and together the idea for VeggieTales came about.
They didn’t start out as vegetables though – Nawrocki and Vischer were playing around with animating candy bars because, Nawrocki says, animals and humans were too difficult to animate well back in the early days of computer animation.
Vischer’s wife stepped in and stood up for moms everywhere when she suggested moms would appreciate something healthier and VeggieTales was born. “Healthy characters with healthy values,” Nawrocki says.
Here they are, 17 years later, with books, CDs and movies, including two theatrical releases – “Jonah – A VeggieTales Movie” and “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything – A VeggieTales Movie.”
Also released this month is “VeggieTales: Bob & Larry Sing the 80’s” including the songs “Gourds Just Want to Have Fun,” “Footloose,” “Walking on Sunshine” and many more. The songs are peppered with hilarious ad lib comments from Bob and Larry which parents will appreciate, knowing the real songs they are covering.
Music is a wonderful part of VeggieTales. Grammy-award winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman has written the song “Meant to Be” for “It’s a Meaningful Life” – the first time they have worked with Chapman. You can view the video at www.bigidea.com.
In addition, philanthropy is a huge part of the mission of VeggieTales. They have partnered with several organizations over the years including Operation Christmas Child and most recently, Show Hope, founded by Chapman and his wife Mary Beth.
Show Hope is an orphan care and adoption aid organization that helps raise awareness about opportunities to care for orphans and to help provide more orphan children with permanent placement in families with their Adoption Aid program. Find out more about Show Hope at www.showhope.org.
VeggieTales has it all – songs, movies, live productions, even an iPhone application! Just as their mission states “to enhance the spiritual and moral fabric of society through creative media,” they help us teach our children strong values and principles everyday – and the kids just think they’re watching limb-less vegetables!
Watch for a new VeggieTales movie coming this Easter!
Disclosure: I was provided one review copy of “VeggieTales: It’s a Meaningful Life” and “VeggieTales: Bob & Larry Sing the 80’s” for this piece.